Project Overview


To help the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Bureau of Primary Health Care better understand, monitor, and support health centers’ use of supplemental funding by creating user-informed snapshots of grantees’ progress report data, analyzing data sources and measures for grantee monitoring, and recommending improvements to monitoring and technical assistance to help grantees provide high quality, accessible health care to medically underserved communities.

Project Motivation

The Health Resources and Services Administration needs efficient and effective ways to review and assess the large volumes of progress reports and other data from more than 1,400 health centers. The agency sought Mathematica’s expertise in data visualization, natural language processing, qualitative analysis, technical assistance, and development of operational and policy recommendations.

Prepared For

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

Community health centers play a vital role in the U.S. health system by providing accessible and affordable primary and preventive care to diverse urban and rural populations.
The Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA’s) Bureau of Primary Health Care distributes supplemental grants to health centers for service delivery and capital improvements in areas such as COVID-19 response, HIV prevention, school-based health, oral health, and hypertension control. Grantees submit thousands of progress reports annually to report on award activities, which HRSA must then analyze to understand the outcomes and improve the effectiveness of its grants. 

To support HRSA, Mathematica employs human-centered design to build automated snapshots that visualize each grantee’s progress. For example, the snapshots show the characteristics of the grantees; their progress in using the funds and for which activities; indicators of the quality of data they submitted; and their barriers, successes, and lessons learned. These summary snapshots aggregate data from progress reports, award applications, and the Health Center Program Uniform Data System, which includes patients’ characteristics, service use, costs, and more. Mathematica co-creates the snapshots by meeting with HRSA program staff and subject matter experts to provide HRSA with a data-driven, user-informed grantee monitoring tool.

Developing the snapshots requires advanced analytics methods, such as natural language processing, to extract relevant data from grantees’ written responses to open-ended questions. We collaborate with end users to develop qualitative measures that extract from the response text information on activities pursued, barriers and successes faced, and lessons learned.  

Mathematica is also assessing HRSA’s supplemental funding efforts to investigate its questions of interest and offer recommendations in those areas to improve how the Bureau of Primary Health Care monitors and assists grantees. To date, we have completed reports covering four supplemental grants that helped health centers prevent, mitigate, and respond to COVID-19 and to enhance health care services and infrastructure, including improving and modernizing their Uniform Data System Plus reporting system. We reviewed the Bureau of Primary Health Care’s data sources, measures, and technical assistance provided to these grantees; identified opportunities for improvement; and recommended ways the Bureau of Primary Health Care could improve those areas to enhance the office’s ability to support program staff responsible for oversight and monitoring of future similar awards. 

Related Staff

Laurie Felland

Laurie Felland

Principal Researcher

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Asta Sorensen

Asta Sorensen

Senior Researcher

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